Severndale Specialist School

As a solicitor who acts regularly for children who suffer from brain injuries and movement control problems, I was delighted to have the opportunity to look around Severndale School in Shrewsbury. The school is a specialist academy providing for children with complex and profound learning difficulties, autism, complex medical conditions and physical and mobility difficulties.

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My colleague and I were shown around by Sixth Form Teacher and Head of PE, Adam Millichip. I was struck by Adam’s pride in the school and his passion for teaching children with special needs. Adam took us around the whole school which caters for children and young people aged from 3 to 19 years and he smiled and greeted each child that we passed and they responded to him.

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I was so impressed by the facilities available and witnessed a young boy walking without any support for one of the first times in a soft play room, sensory interactive rooms, a warm clean and attractive swimming pool with sensory effects to enable children to keep calm and stimulated and bright interesting classrooms with displays of the pupils creative talents. I was delighted to see the coastal garden which Lanyon Bowdler had sponsored which had everything but the sea!

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I was particularly impressed by the sensory garden which has been recently created by the Sixth Formers. There were insect houses, wind chimes hanging from the tree branches, long tubes wrapped around tree trunks for pupils to pour gravel and stones into, and a little wooden veranda type hut positioned like a hide under a tree.

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They have mounted wooden frames on the fences with locks, screws, contraptions and varied objects, textures and materials to encourage curiosity and investigation.

The horticultural area was incredible with few weeds to be seen and I discovered the school was growing Mediterranean basil that looked much better than those plants the supermarkets sell.

Most importantly I noticed the relaxed and enthusiastic atmosphere. Teachers and children looked cheerful and stimulated and Adam confirmed that the school took all opportunities to allow the children to mix between different age groups and abilities to promote their independence and social interaction. The visit was such a rewarding experience I actually thought to myself that I was in the wrong job!

Thank you very much to Adam for giving me an opportunity to see the school. In my position I am often instructed by parents who have suddenly discovered that their child has a brain injury and will have learning difficulties. They have to try and deal with this devastating news and often feel isolated and frightened. It is therefore important for someone like me to be aware of what the local community can provide for these children so that I can offer some reassurance to those parents at that early stage.